How to Proof Your Business for the New Year
Ah the end of the year. The time of year we always either get super aligned or super stressed out, depending on what is going on with our business and how well we have prepared for that last push to December 31st. I know for myself, it almost always feels a bit chaotic trying to get things wrapped up before the kids school holidays so that I can not feel stressed out having work still hanging over my head during the holidays and family times.
This year, I took a new angle on it and decided to actually do something different, something new (for me) and have a plan in place so that when the new year starts, all of my digital files and documents are cleaned out and fresh, just waiting for the start of a brand new year. Don’t you just LOVE the feeling a new year brings, especially when you are ready for it?
So, I have a few different places that I believe you should work on cleaning out before the end of the year and I am going to give you some practical tips on how to do just that!
This has to be the first thing on this list. Why? Because, it’s the first thing you see each and every day when you log onto your computer to start work! If you log on and your desktop is a mess then you already feel chaotic right from the very start. That’s not a productive way to start your day, and definitely not what you want starting a new year with lots of things to accomplish.
When I went through mine, it was probably over ¾ full of screen shots, pictures, documents and folders. It was kind of overwhelming to even look at. But I just started with one row and one thing at a time. If I couldn’t tell what it was, I just opened it up. If it was a business resource I’d use in the near future, I put it into a folder for that purpose. If they were screen shots that I had used in a document while taking notes, I deleted it. Then, of course, all the graphics that I download from my designer to go on my Instagram and elsewhere were just sitting there, useless since I have already posted them to my social media! Those also went into the trash. You’ll know if you need or don’t need each file and you’ll probably find that you can do without the majority of the ones sitting there.
My desktop now has less than one full row of icons and looks MUCH prettier now when I log in.
I know not all of you will be Trello users, but if you use ANY kind of project tracking application then this is for you! I got overwhelmed with all of my boards, cards, lists etcetera that I wasn’t even using them most of the time. I had gone to the trouble of making boards but I didn’t even really figure out what my purpose was when I did that – so they just took up space and I stopped looking at the account at all.
Going through my boards was extremely cathartic and satisfying, just cleaning out all of the old boards that were duplicates of other boards and joining certain boards together. I went through each board and if there were two that were similar, I took the best of both boards and made them into one and deleted one of them. It took me probably a couple hours one night, but I felt so great about it afterwards and now I actually use my Trello account again!
This could also work for Asana or Google Tasks or anything where you are creating cards, lists of things or whatever to do list program you use and haven’t cleaned out in awhile.
Ohhhhh, yeah. This is the big one. The one nobody wants to think about but is so essential. It is SO easy to end up with an overflowing and hard to look at inbox. I can’t tell you the number of times that it’s happened to me. It gets scary just seeing that number of unread emails climb up and up and up….and you have no control over it anymore. It starts to feel like you’ll never catch up.
Well, I just recently bought this great resource from Kimi Kinsey called the Declutter Your E-Clutter ebook guide and it was SO helpful in helping me go from hundreds of emails to inbox 0…honestly I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. And, it wasn’t the old ‘just get unroll.me’ thing everyone else was saying either!
I started by making a list of what she calls ‘repeat offenders’ and changing my subscription preferences (or in some cases unsubscribing from lists that were no longer serving me at all) and then unsubscribing from lists that I didn’t even remember getting on (freebie queen right here, y’all). Then I went through and read the emails that I really needed to read and marked the other ones (you know, the ones you aren’t ACTUALLY ever going to open anyways) as read.
She also has some great resources for how to organize your Gmail folders and such, but honestly it helped me a lot and I now feel like I control my email again instead of the other way around.
It’s the day and age now where most of us are spending a good portion of our day using a mobile phone. And if you are a business owner, the likelihood is that you are using it a LOT for business – especially if you’re like me and are kind of obsessed with Instagram, which is much more friendly on mobile than desktop! In any case, I don’t think I am speaking to the wind here on this point. We all have phones and for the majority of us, those are smartphones. Whether you have an iPhone or a Samsung isn’t up for debate, the fact that you are using a phone with apps and folders is what I want to touch on.
It can get just as messy and overwhelming as your desktop and email inbox on there, right? You download apps, sometimes you use them forever (hello Instagram) and sometimes you use them once or twice and for some reason they don’t get deleted from your phone (hello collage and photo editing apps). The apps themselves will be totally different for each of us, but the fact that we will have some that we don’t need will be the same. I even had one folder called business and another called biz writing….what??
So, now is the time to go through your phone, check your folders for duplicates, delete apps you no longer use and give your phone screen a refreshed look the next time you go on it. This will help you feel more organized in the long run, I promise.
So, there you have it! My ‘spring cleaning’ to do at the end of the year! Now if you want help on dusting those baseboards, I’m not your gal (Kendra Hennessy might be though!), but digital organization I can help with because it’s something I actually do in my life.
What are you working through organizing or getting under better control for your business?
Freelance Writer & Instagram Expert
I’m Bre and I’m a bit obsessed with marketing on Instagram and helping small business owners feel less overwhelmed and more confident when using it to grow their biz!
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